The United States will take strict temporary measures starting at 5 p.m. Eastern time on February 2: U.S. citizens who travel to Hubei, China, within 14 days of entry will be quarantined for up to two weeks, during which medical services and health checks will be arranged; U.S. citizens who travel to other parts of China within 14 days of entry will undergo rigorous health and security screening at inbound airports and will undergo self-quarantine for up to 14 days to ensure they are free of the virus and pose no threat to public health. The US will also temporarily ban non-us citizens who have been to China 14 days before entry (and who are not green card holders or dependents of us citizens) from entering the country during this period.
Health and human services secretary Alex Azar said, “the risk to Americans remains low. Through these and previous actions, we are working to reduce risk.”
U.S. citizens can continue to enter the United States from China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, but could be quarantined for up to 14 days. Other U.S. citizens who have traveled to mainland China but have not been to Hubei can self-isolate at home.
Alex Azar said the measures will “improve our ability to detect and control coronavirus.”
The U.S. centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) has confirmed six cases of coronavirus infection in the United States, five of which recently returned from a trip to China, and the sixth case announced Jan. 30 was the first human-to-human transmission of the virus in the United States, the Capitol hill reported. The patient contracted the virus from his spouse, who had recently traveled to China.
Hours before the United States declared a health emergency, the centers for disease control and prevention announced it would quarantine 195 Americans evacuated from China this week for 14 days at an air force base in California. U.S. health officials say the precautions were taken because so little is known about the virus.
There is no accurate test to determine if a person is infected. Research published this week in Germany suggests the virus can spread even without symptoms.
“Right now, there are a lot of unknowns,” said Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. centers for disease control and prevention. Almost every day, we learn things we didn’t know before.” These precautions are intended to prevent human-to-human transmission of the virus in the United States.
Robert Redfield says 12 people in six countries did not travel to China but contracted the virus.